Sunday, 30 December 2012

Effect of rubber wood biochar on nutrition and growth of nursery plants of Hevea brasiliensis established in an Ultisol

Lots of interesting data to take in, in this rubber wood nursery trial from Sri Lanka. The paper is available as a draft (no graphs yet) but results are v.positive for biochar...
Application of biochar alters availability of nutrients and acidic cations in soils which in turn could affect growth of plant to different degrees. Effect of rubber wood biochar amendment on the growth and nutritional status of Hevea nursery plants was determined in this study. Biochar were applied at 1% and 2% (w/w) with and without the recommended rates of N and Mg liquid fertilizers (LF). Two control treatments with 0% biochar but with and without recommended levels of all N, P, K, and Mg LF were also included. Application of biochar alone has a significant positive effect on above ground dry matter accumulation of the rootstock seedling (81% over the absolute control) while no effect on the scion growth. Growth of plants in LF added treatments were much higher. Combining 2% biochar with N and Mg significantly increased the above ground dry matter accumulation over N-P-K-Mg only treatment in both rootstock seedling (29%) and the scion (61%). Biochar only application did not affect the N and P and decreased K and Ca concentrations in leaves. When combined with N and Mg fertilizers however, biochar significantly increased total N, P, Mg and Ca uptake. Biochar only application (2%) significantly decreased the leaf Mn concentrations in the seedling probably due to decrease in Mn availability as a result of increase in soil pH. The increase in soil pH due to biochar addition decreased with time close  to original values in soils that received LF, possibly due to sulfate of ammonia. We concluded that application of rubber wood biochar (upto 2% w/w) could improve the growth of Hevea plants with the use of only N and Mg fertilizers under nursery conditions tested in this experiment."
Randombage Saman Dharmakeerthi 1*
* Corresponding author
Jayalath Arachchige Sarath Chandrasiri 1
Vishani Udayanga Edirimanne 1
1 Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Dartonfield, Agalawatta 12200, Sri Lanka

I am not qualified to comment technically on the study but I do wonder about the following...
  • my understanding is that LF is plant available, circumventing more 'natural' nutrient pathways. One of the claims made about about biochar is that it will support a shift back to more organic farming practices (nutrient availability from soil flora?). So does adding biochar into existing LF scenarios either complicate or limit the potential study opportunities?
  • I guess a practical answer to this is that LF is an industry baseline practice and any modification to this can only be implimented gradually. Biochar needs to 'fit' around existing systems until plantation-wide permaculture practices can be economically and practically demonstrated.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

New Cambodia study shows positive results for biochar in vegetable growing trial

Effect of different levels of biochar on the yield and nutritive value of Celery cabbage (Brassica chinensis var), Chinese cabbage (Brassica pekinensis), Mustard green (Brassica juncea) and Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)
Chhay Ty, Vor Sina, Khieu Borin and T R Preston*

Center for Livestock and Agriculture Development. Pras Teat village, Rolous Commune, Kandal Stung district, Kandal province.
PO Box 2423 Phnom Penh 3, Cambodia
* Finca Ecológica, TOSOLY, AA #48, Socorro, Santander, Colombia

"The experimental design in a field plot trial (soil pH 5.8; OM 17%) conducted in the rainy season (September to October 2012) involved 24 treatments arranged in a 6*4 factorial arrangement with 3 replications. The first factor was level of biochar (0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 kg/m2); the second factor was the type of vegetable (Water spinach, Chinese cabbage, Celery cabbage and Mustard green). Fertilization was with biodigester effluent (10kg N/ha applied to all treatments. The area of each plot was 1.6m2 (2.0m length x 0.8m width) with spacing between each plot of 0.5m. The experiment lasted 35 days. The biochar (pH 9.3; OM 29.4% in DM) was from a paddy rice drier (combustion temperature with rice husks as feedstock was about 500°C).

Increasing the application of biochar from 0 to 5 kg/m2 led to linear increases in biomass DM yield of 39, 100, 300 and 350 % for Water spinach, Chinese cabbage, Celery cabbage and Mustard green, respectively. Soil quality was improved after the 35 day trial (pH 6.82-7.13; OM 22.6 - 25.7%). The chemical composition of the biomass DM showed average increases in crude protein from 13.7 to 18.1% for leaves and from 7.23 to 9.16 for stems. By contrast, crude fiber in leaves decreased from 14.5 to 9.27% in DM while in stems it fell from 15.6 to 10.7%."

Monday, 17 December 2012

European Biochar Research Network

Here is a great example to follow for SEA biochar research cooperation. Maybe something like this can spin out of a SEA biochar conference?

Maybe the European Union can support a SEA collaboration?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Commecially available TLUD stove from Malang, Indonesia.

Hot topic on the stoves discussion group relates to Prof.M Nurhuda's TLUD stove.
Contact details: Muhammad Nurhuda from the Physics Department, Brawijaya University in Malang, Indonesia

Monday, 5 November 2012

Philippines Biochar Association - news item for IBI newsletter

Biochar Roadshow

"The Biochar Road show, a project being implemented by the Development Society of the Ateneo de Manila University, is an awareness campaign that targets the educated youth from the top universities in the Philippines. With the establishment of the Philippine Biochar Association in 2010, Biochar technology has been introduced to the agricultural practices of the country. The Biochar Road Show exhibits the great benefits of using Biochar in agricultural practices to the environment while promoting the Philippine Biochar Association’s work with local farmers and government units. The Biochar Road show will be setting up their works inside the top universities of the Philippines to raise awareness and spark interest among student bodies of Ateneo de Manila University, De LaSalle University, University of Santo Tomas, and University of the Philippines Diliman. The Biochar Road show will run from November 2012 to February 2013. Although the idea of environmental awareness has been around for a long time, The Biochar Road show that will be held within the universities is different in way that rather than talking about the problem of carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses, it talks about a solution. It does not promote how much carbon that has really been resealed. Other environmental campaigns have been doing for years now and it would be hard to believe that these smart young students barely even know about it. The road show takes into account how students already know the problem, but are not aware about innovative solutions on how to act on environmental concerns. It presents Biochar as a new fresh innovation that will greatly help cut down carbon emissions while being able to help their fellow Filipinos with agricultural lifestyles. The Philippines is naturally an agricultural country, making it easier for university students of the Philippines to see the great deal of change they would be able to make by supporting Biochar and the Philippines Biochar Association efforts. These students will one day be the future of the country, and even just a hand full of them can make a great impact on the country’s environmental future."

Philippines Biochar Association

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Exciting new research from Lao PDR - benefits of biochar as animal feed

Biochar reduces enteric methane and improves growth and feed conversion in local “Yellow” cattle fed cassava root chips and fresh cassava foliage (


Twelve local “Yellow” cattle with initial live weight ranging from 80 to 100 kg were assigned in a completely randomized block design to a 2*2 factorial arrangement of four treatments with three replications. The factors were: biochar at 0.6% of diet DM or none; and potassium nitrate at 6% of diet DM or urea at 1.83% of diet DM. The basal diet was cassava root chips fed ad libitum and fresh cassava foliage at 1% of LW (DM basis). Sodium sulphate and sodium chloride were added to the diet at the rate of 0.4% and 0.5% in the DM. The trial lasted 98 days following a 21 day adaptation to the diets.

Live weight gain was increased 25% by adding biochar to the diet DM and tended to be decreased when nitrate replaced urea as the source of NPN. DM feed conversion was improved by biochar and by urea replacing nitrate. DM feed intake was not affected by supplementation with biochar nor by the NPN source. Both biochar and nitrate reduced methane production by 22 and 29%, respectively, the effects being additive (41% reduction) for the combination of biochar and nitrate. 

R A Leng*, T R Preston** and Sangkhom Inthapanya

Faculty of Agriculture and Forest Resources, Souphanouvong University,
Luang Prabang, Lao PDR

*University of New England, Armidale NSW, Australia
**Finca Ecologica TOSOLY, AA48 Socorro, Colombia

Monday, 29 October 2012

UniKL - MPOB biochar trials update

The following report has been provided by Dr Robert Bachmann from UniKL on their biochar collaboration work with MPOB...

PKS biochar from BEK
"The Biochar Experimenter Kit (BEK) at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has now received a shelter place with concrete flooring and flue gas extraction system (Figure 1). Mr Kong Sieng-Huat, master student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), has established that the BEK is able to give 30 % yield of palm kernel shell (PKS) biochar from the current controlled conditions in batch production (retort mode). The biochar is then subjected to a series of physico-chemical characterizations to determine the most suitable biochar to be used in the designed field trial study (see below). A mini workshop was also conducted recently from 17-19 October 2012 to give local participants a better understanding on the operation of the BEK. "
BEK protected from elements in its new shelter

Rainshelter with automatic irrigation system with drips for 200 plants
"In March 2012, construction of a plant nursery facility began at Universiti Kuala Lumpur (MICET), Melaka, funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) (Figure 2). The purpose of this facility is to study the effect of biochar produced from oil palm plantation waste such as PKS, oil palm trunk, empty fruit bunch (EFB) and fronds on the growth of oil palm seedlings. Parameters such as cation exchange capacity (CEC), soil pH and water holding capacity, biomass yield, and chlorophyll content of palm oil leafs are investigated. The nursery has a capacity for 200 plants with an automatic irrigation system. The project is conducted by postgraduate (Arasu Uttran) and final year undergraduate students (Farain Zainal and Subki Awang) from the Environmental Engineering Technology Section supervised by Dr Robert Thomas Bachmann (UniKL MICET and Dr Loh Soh Kheang (MPOB). "

Reported by:
Sieng-Huat Kong (free2rhyme0628(at) &
Arasu Uttran (arasu_biotech(at)

For further enquiries kindly contact:
Dr Loh Soh Kheang (MPOB): lohsk(at)
Dr Robert Thomas Bachmann (UniKL): bachmann(at)

Bamboo, Pyrolysis, Bio-Char, ...

" Charlotte O'Brien, Director of Bio Bamboo and CO2 Drawdown Solutions, explains how to significantly draw down Carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it as a Bio-Char soil conditioner using Bamboo to fuel Pyrolysis. Adding the Bio-Char to depleted soil fosters the spread of Mycorrhizal fungus in the soil, which in turn creates Glomalin (which sequesters even more Carbon). The enriched soil then produces more biomass which can be processed into more biochar...the result is an exponential carbon draw down!
The process also generates a bevy of marketable bi-products."

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tapping oil palm biomass

It seems I've managed to get some main-stream press coverage here for biochar...

"A recent conference looks at ways to tap oil palm biomass.
At a recent conference on oil palm biomass, one of the presenters brought up the story of the mythical Lost City of El Dorado in the Amazon, reputedly a place with untold gold riches. Many treasure hunters had tried to locate it, but unsuccessfully. They found something else though – naturally occurring biochar.
Biochar is the resulting material when biomass (biological material derived from agricultural or forest produce) undergoes carbonisation under high temperatures. The same substance can be churned out from oil palm residues – along with a whole lot of other products. And so participants at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s (MPOB) International Oil Palm Biomass Conference on Sept 20 and 21 were rightly informed that oil palm biomass is a veritable goldmine. In fact, it might well be the El Dorado of Malaysia."

You can contact me for a copy of my presentation, if of interest.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Wilberforce Award (& Prosperity without Growth)

At the risk of getting a little off track, maybe this program by Dick Smith can attract some young biochar entrepreneurs ... (
"It has become obvious to me that my generation has over exploited our wonderful world – and it’s younger people who will pay the price. Like many people my age, I’ve benefited from a long period of constant economic and population growth – we are addicted to it. But sooner or later this consumption growth will have an end. We appear to be already bumping against the limits of what our planet can sustain and the evidence is everywhere to see.
Right now I believe we could be sleepwalking to catastrophe because we are failing to both acknowledge that there are limits to growth in a finite world and to prepare for a more sustainable way of organising our economy. In the 19th Century, empires were built on the labour of slaves, and it was believed economies would collapse if slavery was abolished. But brave people like William Wilberforce fought to end the slave trade – and economies still flourished. We need brave people like Wilberforce today, and I want to encourage a new generation of clear-thinking and inspiring young leaders."
Linked to the webpage above, is recording of a lecture by Professor Tim Jackson entitled, “Prosperity without Growth”. This touches on carbon negative aspirations without specific mention of biochar.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Dilmah biochar trials in Sri Lanka

More news from Sri Lanka on the potential benefits of biochar for the tea industry...

This follows on from previous posts linked here...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

TESS to lead $1 million compost-biochar CFI project

This work in tropical Queensland may have future application and interest in SEA...
"TESS researcher Michael Bird will lead a consortium that will field trial compost, biochar and compost-biochar (COMBI) mixes on nine farms in North Queensland. The project is funded by the Federal Governments DAFF Carbon Farmin INitiative - Filling the Research Gap program.

Compost and biochar are used separately for improving soil condition and sequestering carbon, and have been shown to be of particular benefit in tropical agricultural soils. This project will mix biochar with organic waste prior to composting (COMBI-mix) to synergistically enhance the acknowledged benefits of both materials. We will (i) trial business as usual, compost alone, biochar alone, COMBI-mix and compost mixed with biochar at nine field sites across North Queensland, (ii) determine the impact of each on carbon sequestration, GHG fluxes and crop performance (iii) provide inputs to better model soil carbon in agricultural systems and (iv) model costs/benefits at the farm/regional/industry scale.
Funding body: DAFF - Carbon Farming Futures - Filling the Research Gap Programme"

Professor Michael Bird FRSE
Federation Fellow
Director, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
James Cook University
PO Box 6811 Cairns
Queensland, 4870, Australia
Phone:  +61-7-4042-1137
Fax: +61-7-4042-1284
location: building A2 room 219


Saturday, 1 September 2012

August edition of the IBI newsletter

 A huge amount of news in the August IBI newsletter with links to output from the 2012 conference.
Only one reference to our region Co/ again, to activities in the Philippines.
I know there is a lot of regional activity... how about some interim reports & updates?

Research interest in biochar continues at an exponential pace... there are now 871 listings in the IBI biblio.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

More SEA TLUD development work (Vietnam)

The fuel pellet industry could re-think its global distribution focus and start thinking local. There are plenty of good reasons why this type of stove should occupy every home in the future.

The parts of the 150 gasifier:
"If you open Bookmarks in 150 Gasifier Parts, you will find a description of each part."

Co/ Paul A. Olivier PhD
27C Pham Hong Thai Street
Louisiana telephone: 1-337-447-4124 (rings Vietnam)
Mobile: 090-694-1573 (in Vietnam)
Skype address: Xpolivier

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Biochar success in Hawaii

This video has interviews with a number of biochar users in tropical Hawaii. Their success (in what I assume to be rich volcanic soils) points toward even greater agriculture opportunities with poorer tropical soils.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Rubber wood industry research on Biochar from Sri Lanka

Included in the July IBI newsletter ...

"... However, Rubber research Institute of Sri Lanka (RRISL) pioneered systematic scientific research on biochar in Sri Lanka. Scientists at RRISL initiated few experiments in 2009 by producing biochar from firewood used in raw rubber manufacturing factories and applying them into rubber nurseries and field plants. They have found that biochar improves the fertility of rubber growing soil, reduce fertilizer usage, reduce leaching losses of plant nutrients and improve the growth of the rubber plants. They also produced biochar from several organic materials available in and around rubber plantations. In addition to this, scientists in the Dept. of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Peradeniya has produced a slow release urea fertilizer using biochar. In this year several institutions in Sri Lanka have initiated small scale experiments to investigate the effect of different types of biochar on soil quality, crop growth and yield, stability of biochar carbon in soil. The outcome of these studies will be known in the coming years. ..."

Saturday, 21 July 2012

More reports on biochar research in SEA from IBI

IBI have profiled on their website, work being led from Norway that includes collaborations with researchers in SEA...

Profile: Biochar Field Trials in Zambia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal as well as New Biochar Characterization Research from a Team in Norway

"Field trial work in Indonesia began in January 2012 with several sites set up in collaboration with the Indonesian Soil Research Institute and UN Development Program. They are based in Sumatra (acid ultisol; corn, dry and wet rice), Kalimantan (acid sulphate soil; wet rice), West-Timor (alfisol; corn), and Sulawesi (sandy, acid soil; corn and cacao).

In June 2012, the team will establish field trials in Malaysia on degraded sandy soils using biochar produced from rice husk. Rice husk is one of the main waste biomass materials in the area and it will be produced at local rice mills (where the pyrolysis heat is used for drying the raw rice) and then compared to a material produced in a more controlled system based on the Belonio stove (a different stove model). The Malaysian partners include the University of Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian Agricultural Institute (MARDI). The university of Kuala Lumpur has experience with producing biochar and possesses small scale equipment including a biochar experimental kit (BEK) which can produce a “designer biochar”.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Application of char products improves urban soil quality

Dr Subhadip Ghosh, researcher from Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology of National Parks Board, Singapore has conducted a research on using local char materials for urban soil management. Following is the abstract of the paper published in ‘Soil Use and Management’. This paper reports on the 1st phase of biochar related research from Singapore. Phase 2, utilising Black Earth biochar imported from Australia, is also completed and further larger scale research plans are in place.
Urban soils are a key component of the urban ecosystem but little research has considered their quality and management. The use of char or partially combusted char products as a soil amendment is becoming popular worldwide because of perceived benefits to fertility and the potential for increasing carbon sequestration. In this study, we assessed the effect of applying coarse and fine char material on the quality of four different types of soil-based root-zone mixes typically used for turfgrass and general landscaping in Singapore: clay loam soil, approved soil mix (ASM, 3 soil:2 compost:1 sand), 50:50 (sand ⁄ soil) and 75:25 (sand ⁄ soil). Char briquettes made from sawdust were mixed thoroughly at rates of 25, 50 and 75% by volume with the soil mixes. Results showed that addition of char (both coarse and fine) significantly enhanced the carbon content of the mixes, with the largest increase being associated with the 50% and 75% additions. Soil nutrients (total N, extractable P, K, Ca and Mg) and mean weight diameter of aggregates were also significantly increased following the application of char. The clay loam and the 50:50 and 75:25 soil mixes were more responsive to the addition of char than was ASM."

S. Ghosh, D.Yeo, B.Wilson & L.F.Ow
1 Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, National Parks Board, Singapore 259569, Singapore,
2 School of Environmental and Rural Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia,
3 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117543, Singapore, and
4 Office of Environment and Heritage, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia

Soil Use and Management (In Press). doi: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2012.00416.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Do Anthropogenic Dark Earths Occur in the Interior of Borneo? Some Initial Observations from East Kalimantan

Two new articles covering a new publication on ADE in Kalimantan, dug up by Erich Knight...
"Tiem, Punyuh & Tanah Hitam ; It's all TP to me, but Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADEs) are popping up all over.
As I reported May 15, about new TP soils in Borneo, (below), now we have new find in Malinau [East Kalimantan]
Charred lands: fertile grounds for sustainable agriculture in Kalimantan?

TP in Asia,... Indonesian Anthropogenic Black Earth; Now along the lines of the African traditions of  both the African Ankara system and Batibo technique and no dough more akin to the Malaysian char practice Malay tanah hitam (black soil), we have Borneo Black Soils;
Terra preta found in Asia

"Abstract: Anthropogenic soils of the Amazon Basin (Terra Preta, Terra Mulata) reveal that pre-Colombian peoples made lasting improvements in the agricultural potential of nutrient-poor soils. Some have argued that applying similar techniques could improve  agriculture over much of the humid tropics, enhancing local livelihoods and food security, while also sequestering large quantities of carbon to mitigate climate change. Here, we present preliminary evidence for Anthropogenic Dark Earths (ADEs) in tropical Asia. Our surveys in East Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) identified several sites where soils possess an anthropogenic development and context similar in several respects to the Amazon’s ADEs. Similarities include riverside locations, presence of useful fruit trees, spatial extent as well as soil characteristics such as dark color, high carbon content (in some cases), high phosphorus levels, and improved apparent fertility in comparison to neighboring soils.  Local people value these soils for cultivation but are unaware of their origins. We discuss these soils in the context of local history and land-use and identify numerous unknowns. Incomplete biomass burning appears key to these modified soils. More study is required to clarify soil transformations in Borneo and to determine under what circumstances such soil improvements might remain ongoing."

Sunday, 24 June 2012

IBI June Newsletter

Some SEA news within...

I can also advise the Biomass-SP have tentative plans to support some biochar industry capacity building in Malaysia. More about that as things develop (but if you are interested in participating or supporting this initiative, then please get in touch).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The dark side of the green economy: 'Green grabbing'

I draw your attention to this article. For me, it provides a good perspective on some of the issues that need to be considered in our rush toward 'green' resource utilisation. It does mention biochar is a derogatory way (and I'm sure the Carbonscape reference is poorly researched and referenced) but it is certainly more balanced and without the BS coming from Biofuel Watch.

These are big issues that the biochar community can't solve. Maybe international agreements and regulation are part of the solution along with solving political corruption in the developing world (easy huh).

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Philippine Biochar Association

New Philippine Biochar Association announcement...

"We are a relatively new organization that we formed a year ago in March 2011. We organize farmer members of the Irrigators' Associations in the Philippine countryside to produce and use biochar on riceland. We create a collaborative network at the town or municipal level between the Local Government, a local NGO, and the Irrigators' Association, and we ask them to measure and record each soil integration of biochar, issuing a certificate for every 1.1 tons of biochar integrated in riceland. We use these certificates to issue carbon offset credits in the local market for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ISR (Individual Social Responsibility).

Currently we have two biochar networks in the province of Zambales with about 1,000 farmer members each. The biochar is made by the farmers from rice hull which is plentiful in the Central Luzon rice growing areas. We have the first network in the town of Botolan, training the other network in the town of Palauig. The Botolan network has a production capacity of 3 tons of biochar per day during production period, and has issued 35 biochar integration certificates to date. We have already sold the carbon credits from those certificates as ISR in the local market. 60% of the proceeds are given to the town network.

Please check out our website at"

Friday, 11 May 2012

Recent Research on Biochar’s Potential in Soils

The following link leads to an article from Thayer Tomlinson, published by the Ecological Landscaping Association.
"... Until recently, it was believed that biochar’s beneficial soil impacts were seen primarily in soils with significant constraints, but two recent publications examine its impact on more fertile Midwestern agricultural soils, showing that biochar can benefit even healthy, fertile soils..."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Grow More Food & Fight Climate Change: Black Revolution

A few things can be high-lighted from this link to Re-char...
  • nice little video on biochar
  • Jason is an great example of young entrepreneurial talent, emerging from the biochar community
  • they seem to be getting great results in tropical soils
  • kickstarter seems to have worked well for their small-scale funding needs - I wonder if small project funding is possible in SEA?

Rice husk charcoal marketing from Vietnam

For those interested in biochar market development and pricing, Tom Miles has posted the following at

“We producing rice husk charcoal in large quality want to find buyer. Our product can be formed in every shape as we make it as powder.
Please let us know if you want to have sample. Our EXW price fix at USD 450/ton. main port Haiphong”

There is currently no established market yet for biochar in SEA so pricing can either be set by international demand (the target of the marketing effort, above) or by other existing market values for the products of pyrolysis. The value of charcoal in SEA can vary a lot depending on,
  • type of biomass used (& its location and value)
  • biomass pre-processing (cost of drying, grinding, chipping, palletizing, etc)
  • pyrolysis production system (& the quality of the resultant charcoal)
  • charcoal form & post-processing (lump, natural, powdered, briquette, pellet)
  • target market (retail, fossil fuel offsetting, industrial carbon such as reduction processes, activated carbon, specialist markets and applications).
I suggest that the most conservative valuation you can currently place on biochar (when you want to value it for commercial scale project economics) is to value it for is energy content. Charcoals should have similar CV to coal, so I suggest that the least you could ever value biochar is the equivalent price /tonne for local coal. In Malaysia, this is ~US$200 /T.

I believe its value to agriculture and the environment will prove to be much higher in the future but this is still to be demonstrated in the field(s).

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Indonesian biochar application research - Recent publication

The Effect of Biochar on the Growth and N Fertilizer Requirement of Maize (Zea mays L.) in Green House Experiment

Widowati, W. H. Utomo, B. Guritno, L. A. Soehono


Greenhouse experiments were carried out to study the effect of biochar and other organic amendment (Chicken Manure, CM; and City waste compost, CW) using on the growth and N fertilizer requirement of maize. The first experiment was carried out to study the effect of biochar application to maize growth, and then continued to study the residual effect of biochar. The second experiment was carried out to study the effect of biochar application on nitrogen fertilizer requirement. The results show that the first season of maize biomass of organic amendment of treated soils did not significantly different from no organic amendment. However, organic amendment improved soil fertility status, especially increasing C-organic, N, K and CEC. The biomass of the second season maize of biochar of treated soil was higher compared to the other treatments. The second experiment shows that biochar application decreased N fertilizer requirement. To produce 3.23 Mg ha-1 biomass, it required 90 kg ha-1 N for 15 Mg ha-1 CM biochar treated soil, and 160 kg ha-1 for the non treated soil.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Biochar Field Trials in Indonesia and Malaysia

IBI are currently profiling biochar research activities from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)...

Profile: Biochar Field Trials in Zambia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal as well as New Biochar Characterization Research from a Team in Norway

"Field trial work in Indonesia began in January 2012 with several sites set up in collaboration with the Indonesian Soil Research Institute and UN Development Program. They are based in Sumatra (acid ultisol; corn, dry and wet rice), Kalimantan (acid sulphate soil; wet rice), West-Timor (alfisol; corn), and Sulawesi (sandy, acid soil; corn and cacao).

In June 2012, the team will establish field trials in Malaysia on degraded sandy soils using biochar produced from rice husk. Rice husk is one of the main waste biomass materials in the area and it will be produced at local rice mills (where the pyrolysis heat is used for drying the raw rice) and then compared to a material produced in a more controlled system based on the Belonio stove (a different stove model). The Malaysian partners include the University of Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian Agricultural Institute (MARDI). The university of Kuala Lumpur has experience with producing biochar and possesses small scale equipment including a biochar experimental kit (BEK) which can produce a “designer biochar”.

Research associated with the production and containment of organic contaminates during the production and utilisation of biochar will also be undertaken...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Biochar results from Tropical Hawaii

Josiah Hunt - Biochar and the Future of Farming 

"Josiah Hunt has worked extensively with biochar for several years now. A young farmer and agriculturalist, he has been researching the topic, educating on the topic and created a business focused on the production and distribution of biochar. While biochar is multi-faceted involving waste management, energy production, climate change mitigation and agriculture, biochar in agriculture has been the focus of his work. Josiah is a graduate of UHH and has been a resident of Hawaii since 2002.
In Josiah's TEDxHilo Talk, "Biochar and The Future of Farming" Mr. Hunt describes the process he employs on Hawaii Island for biochar use farming food crops. He clearly shows the benefits of using biochar in multiple farming efforts by clear players in our local agricultural community. Demonstrable yields were highlighted in this articulate and easy to follow talk. Organic farmers everywhere should watch this video..."

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Thailand: Sustainable Decentralized Water Treatment for Rural and Developing Communities Using Gasifier Biochar

For some years colleagues and I in Thailand and the US have been working on charcoal/biochar as low-cost locally derived sorbents for drinking water treatment targeting pesticides and other hazardous synthetic organic contaminants.

We've just published some instructional videos and documents available for public distribution on the web. In particular, I would draw your attention to our new handbook: Sustainable Decentralized Water Treatment for Rural and Developing Communities Using Gasifier Biochar

Please have a look, let me know what you think, and feel free to forward far and wide! We're hoping to get these materials into the hands of practitioners, as well as to invite feedback, modification, adaptation and advancement of the research and field applications.

Warm regards - Josh

Josh Kearns

PhD Candidate
Environmental Engineering
Engineering for Developing Communities
University of Colorado-Boulder
Mobile (Thailand): +66 082 764 2523
Skype: joshkearns

Ed............ and now also in Thai.....

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Call for Papers: Conversion Prospects of Biomass into Biochar in Indonesia - Malang 26-27 June 2012

UNITRI 2012 National Seminar - Malang, Indonesia 26-27 June 2012

Further to my earlier post (, the brochure for the seminar is now available and can be down-loaded from the following link:

Abstract deadline in 1 May.

Friday, 9 March 2012

International Training Course on Biochar Production, Testing and Utilisation

Nanjing Agricultural University in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and Newcastle University is considering holding an International Training Workshop if there is sufficient numbers of people who wish to attend. We are asking for expressions of interest.

1. Target Audience: This training course will target the following groups of people.
  • Decision makers in organisations who wish to develop policies and programs at national or regional level,
  • Project managers who are designing and/or implementing either R and D, demonstration of commercial projects
  • Senior extension personnel in agricultural and low carbon technology sector
  • Owners or senior executives who are or have set up an enterprise that includes the manufacture of biochar or biochar related products.
2. Location: Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

3. Timing: Sept 10th to 15th

4. Duration and Format: 6 days.
Lectures and discussion will be held in the morning and testing and practicals in the afternoon. A field trip to a pilot field trial will be organized.

5. Cost and numbers.
Participants from developing countries will not be charged a tuition fee but will have to pay their airfare, food and accommodation. Participants from developed countries and China are requested to pay a registration fee of EU350 for NGO’s and EU750 for commercial business and organisations. They are responsible for the airfare, accommodation and food. The registration fee is to cover cost of accommodation, airfare and food of trainers. A training certificate will be issued by the end of the course.
Maximum number of participants 30

For Course content and application details please refer to the following linked ...

Professor Genxing Pan;
Professor Stephen Joseph;

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Biochar related research proposal for Laos and Thailand

Research Proposal:
Producing Biochar from Waste Biomass to Improve Food Security, Enhance Villager Livelihoods, and Reduce GHG Emissions:
Lao PDR and Thailand Case Studies1

An abstract of this proposal, which includes the establishment of Adam Retorts in each location, can be down-loaded from the following link...
1 Prepared by Richard J. Frankel, Ph.D. and David Morell, Ph.D., Adjunct Professors, Natural Resources and Environmental Management Center, Mae Fah Luang University, 333 Moo 1 Tambol Thasud, Muang District, Chiang Rai 57100, THAILAND; Phone: +(66) 53-916850-1; Fax: +(66) 53-916852;;

Monday, 5 March 2012

More Biochar activity in Vietnam

Dr Stephen Joseph has reported on biochar production and application in northern Vietnam...

Enclosed is a report on work that has been going on in the North of Vietnam funded by CARE.
Large scale field trials of mixed biochar produced in TLUD drums is underway and about 60 stoves should be going into households now (or very soon).
Download Development of TLUD cookstoves and Drum Ovens in North Vietnam  from

Just out of interest I have integrated my TLUD with an aquaponics/vermiculture system in my back yard.
First harvest of lettuce, pak choi and Radiccio after 2 weeks.  Used this to make Pho
Download Schematic biochar aquaponics with vermiculture
Stephen Joseph

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Biomass Gasification and the Benefits of Biochar - Dr Paul Olivier

If you are interested in biomass stoves (TLUD) or the multiple applications for small scale biomass gasification then I highly recommend a review of Dr Paul Olivier's work in Vietnam with rice husk biomass. His 10 page report (link below) includes reports on biochar agriculture trials in Cambodia and Laos using rice hulls. His report also includes an interesting summary of possible future distributed energy pathways for biomass.

Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2012 06:11:11 +0700
From: Paul Olivier <>
To: Discussion of biomass cooking stoves <>
Subject: [Stoves] the 150 gasifier in operation in Vietnam

This is a TLUD forced air gasifier in operation on rice hulls.

Here you see the burner with burner housing:

When a wire mesh dome is placed on top of the burner and burner housing,  this roughly doubles the amount of heat being transferred to a pot:

Here it took 3 minutes and 42 seconds to bring a liter of water to a boil:

For more details on this gasifier, see:


Paul A. Olivier PhD
27C Pham Hong Thai Street

Louisiana telephone: 1-337-447-4124 (rings Vietnam)

Mobile: 090-694-1573 (in Vietnam)
Skype address: Xpolivier

Friday, 24 February 2012


 Dr Widowati, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Tribhuwana (UNITRI) in Malang city, East Java, Indonesia has asked me to announce their plans to host a biomass related seminar on June 26-27, 2012. The seminar is titled:

A field trip is also planned covering biochar utilization on marginal lands in agricultural systems.

A leaflet is being prepared inviting speakers (oral and posters) to submit an abstract (250 words) no later than May 1, 2012. Published papers will be presented on May 29, 2012, then full papers should be included no later than June 5, 2012.

Further information will be provided soon but for now you may contact Dr Widowati from the details below.

Widowati, Dr.
Dean, the Faculty of Agriculture
University of Tribhuwana (UNITRI)
Block C, Tlogomas street, Malang 65144
East Java, Indonesia
UNITRI, established since 2001, has five faculties i.e. Agriculture, Social and Politics Sciences, Engineering, Health, and Economics. Malang is nearby to the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

Saturday, 11 February 2012
Charlotte O'Brien, Director of Bio Bamboo, explains how to significantly draw down Carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it as a Bio-Char soil conditioner using Bamboo to fuel Pyrolysis. Adding the Bio-Char to depleted soil fosters the spread of Mycorrhizal fungus in the soil, which in turn creates Glomalin (which sequesters even more Carbon). The enriched soil then produces more biomass which can be processed into more biochar...the result is an exponential carbon draw down!
The process also generates a bevy of marketable bi-products.

Monday, 16 January 2012

International Symposium on Reclamation, Restoration & Rehabilitation Towards a Greener Asia

The following announcement from Dr Ho at FRIM may offer opportunities to showcase biochar soil remediation activities around the world and promote related opportunities for SEA...

Dear Professor/Dr/Sir/Madam,

It is my great privilege to invite you and your colleagues to the following Symposium as organized by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM):

Title: International Symposium on Reclamation, Restoration and Rehabilitation Towards a Greener Asia
Date: July 3-5, 2012
Venue: Kuala Lumpur

Kindly click on the link for more information on the symposium:

Your participation in this Symposium is highly valued and will certainly contribute to enhancing future efforts in forestry particularly in fields related to reclamation, restoration and rehabilitation. I would be very grateful if you could forward information about this Symposium to your colleagues/friends.

Thank you.

Wai Mun HO, PhD
Research Officer
Forest Biotechnology Division,
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM),
52109 Kepong, Selangor, MALAYSIA.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Biochar Stove Project in Indonesia

The Department of Chemical Engineering, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia is planning to undertake a biochar stove project and is now seeking interest from potential research and project implementation partners. The project will focus on optimizing pyrolytic stoves for waste biomass in Indonesia, and will include the production and utilization of biochar.

Phase 1 began with a seminar on December 30, 2011 exploring TLUD primary and secondary air supply optimization. Plans for the next phase include similar studies on Anila type stoves. Stove performance will be tailored to the type of biomass and cooking habits of Indonesia.

Integrating the manufacture of wood pellets is also a consideration for the performance of the stove and implementation into society as a sustainable activity. The Department of Chemical Engineering, Gadjah Mada University is open to collaborative research on biochar stove design and implementation of the stove field projects in Indonesian society. For further information on participating in this project, please refer to...